One of the great signs of spring in Washington, D.C., is the herds of middle schoolers who arrive, on trips to Learn About America. I got to partake in this annual migration in a small way myself this year; a friend from college had brought her very own eighth grader to town for spring break. I inquired about highlights to the visit so far; they included seeing the original Constitution and eating a lot of french fries.

We had fancy brunch, then went to the National Museum of American History, then to Artomatic, a freewheeling art show that pops up in an empty office building in the D.C. area every few years.

At some point in these wanderings, I looked at Instagram – I know, I have a problem – and saw a post from the National Park Service. They’d called it: Peak bloom was here. Our cherry blossoms were ready for visitors, several days earlier than expected (and weeks earlier than average).

After dinner that night, I convinced my skeptical partner that it was worth getting in the car and going to look at the flowers in the dark. Well, mostly I reminded him that he wasn’t required to go along with my hare-brained schemes if he’d rather keep sitting on the couch.

I’d never been to see the flowers at night before, and I thought it might be disappointing. It was not. The trees were puffy and beautiful, and, if you really buried your nose in them, very lightly fragrant. And perfect.

trees with text on wall "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

Peak bloom is still going, two days later – no rain or high winds have come to blow all the petals away. I know my friend’s eighth grader got to see them, and I hope lots of other people do, too.

If you want to see more cherry blossom pictures, this isn’t my first rodeo. See daytime pictures in my 2014 post and my 2016 post.

Photos: Helen Fields, obviously

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